Tag Archives: suicide

Do Coincidences Save Lives?

Some coincidences involve an uncanny timing of events that delay the time of death or disability. Following are some of those many stories.

 Clinic Painter (eponymous vase)/Wikimedia Commons

User:Bibi Saint-Pol, own work, 2007-07-21Source: Clinic Painter (eponymous vase)/Wikimedia Commons

Pediatrician Harley Rotbart collected many such stories in his physician-contributed anthology called Miracles We Have Seen: America’s Leading Physicians Share Stories They Can’t Forget. One striking example from this collection involved Father Carl. This beloved priest finished rounds on his hospitalized parishioners in a suburban Boston hospital. He then got into an otherwise empty elevator, pressed the button for the lobby, and collapsed from a massive heart attack.

But somehow the elevator didn’t go to the lobby—instead, the doors opened on the second floor, the floor housing the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU), where the cardiologist in charge of the unit was waiting at the elevator to go upstairs to make his rounds. The cardiologist immediately took charge of the unconscious priest and set about the necessary treatment. Had the elevator not deposited him on just the right floor with just the right person, Father Carl would have died.

During an evaluation of her cancer, physicians scanned the brain of politician Jennifer Kitchen of Craigsville, Virginia, for metastasizes. They found an aneurysm that would soon burst and disable or kill her. 

Janet Payne of Kinkcora, Prince Edward Island, Canada, was approaching a stoplight with her three children in the back seat. Although the light had turned green, she stopped a few yards from the intersection to adjust the seat belt of one of the children. She turned back to drive and saw a truck speed through the intersection that would have hit her had she proceeded through.

One of our study patients at the University of Missouri-Columbia research (see this Psychology Today post) reported that she was in her car at an intersection when the light turned green. At that moment, the phone rang. It was her brother who rarely calls and whom she thinks of as her guardian angel. She looked up to see a truck barreling through the red light. It would have hit hurt had she not paused to answer the phone.

Psychologist Chris Mackey of Geelong, Australia, has several reports of people being saved from suicide by coincidences.

A man was in a hidden quarry about to lose consciousness from carbon monoxide poisoning when the cellphone next to him rang. He answered it and gave enough of a reluctant hint of where he was to be found in the nick of time. He then felt he was meant to live and made a full and lasting recovery from depression.

Another man had a gun in his mouth, about to pull the trigger, when he looked out the window to see a blackbird looking at him. The bird took flight and smashed into the window and died. The man thought that the bird had died so he could live. He went to rehab for his drug addiction, recovered, and began living normally.article continues after advertisement

Chris also wrote about a personal example in his book The Positive Psychology of Synchronicity about a coincidence associated with his own psychiatric hospitalization for depression. “I very rarely experienced any synchronicity at that time. When I was at my absolutely lowest ebb, I was on the threshold of developing a suicide plan. I sat in a bleak hospital corridor, thinking that if nothing changed in the next five minutes, I would shift my focus to how I could end my life. Within a couple of minutes, a nurse approached me to fetch me to answer a phone call from a good friend who lived interstate and only rarely called. The timing seemed so uncanny—synchronistic assistance from the outside—that it completely stopped any further thought of taking action to end my life. I still believe it’s quite possible I would not be here if not for that phone call.”

Each of these is a single instance that statistically minded people can attribute to the unproven Law of Very Large Numbers: In large populations, any weird thing could happen. (To read a critical evaluation of this “law,” please see Sharon Rawlette’s Psychology Today post on the subject.)

However, consider the experiences of Executive Coach Katrin Windsor of Boulder Colorado.

“I once missed a train that crashed. I once had a big tree fall on me, but strangely it fell in such a way that I stood in the opening of its big branches and it didn’t touch me!? I once hiked with my husband and two sons in Yellowstone. John and Bryan walked 20 feet ahead of Dan and me. Suddenly a big tree fell right between us and didn’t touch anybody!? I once missed a Guided Volcano Jeep tour in Sicily. We missed it by 1 minute and watched the Jeep we were supposed to be on leave without us. So we sat down at the Tour Office restaurant and ordered a plate of pasta. In the middle of chowing down our pasta, ambulances and sirens and helicopters arrived, and suddenly the Jeeps we missed returned with three dead tourists because the volcano became active and started spewing big rocks!?”

Some people will invoke the Law of Very Large Numbers. Others might attribute this remarkable string to God or the Universe. As a psychotherapist, I look for personal responsibility in my patients as well as in coincidences. Janet Payne attributes her stopping before the intersection at a green light to a strong intuitive feeling to not proceed and to fix the seat belt of her child.article continues after advertisementhttps://febf9c840d5958770643f520d3d151eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?v=1-0-38

To the question of explanation, Katrin Windsor replied, “I frankly have no clue as to why I have been so lucky, except that it obviously is not my time yet to go. My last lucky accident was when I had a bike crash in Denver in December and miraculously fell between two parked cars into an empty parking spot, so I didn’t bounce off a parked car and back into the busy street, where cars would have had a hard time avoiding me. My take from that most recent accident is that I’m clearly here to channel spirit. It does feel like Fujoli is my way which is connecting people to their aliveness.”

Again, some will invoke the Law of Very Large Numbers while others will invoke some form of divine intervention. In the study of coincidences, resolving questions like these are central to its purpose. See this Psychology Today post from Sharon Rawlette about personal explanations for meaningful coincidences. 

The Dark Side of Humanity’s Subconscious is now Externalized: The Covid-19 Synchronicity


Wet Market in AsiaSource: Wikimedia

Synchronicity usually involves a surprising similarity between ideas in the mind and objects in the social or physical surroundings. This similarity can reveal aspects of the self that are hidden from conscious awareness.

Covid-19 reflects the worst in our human psyche. Insidious and destructive, it promotes only its own survival and propagation. Its damaging effects on human society and human bodies are irrelevant to its purpose. These characteristics parallel the human effects on the natural world. Both the virus and humans  are like parasites destroying their host.

How the virus got here

The virus probably rode into the crowded wet market in Wuhan, China on wild animals where it found fertile hosts. (For photos of the wet market in Wuhan click here)   Until now, the wild animals and the virus had lived together without human contact in remote geographical areas. Destroyed habitats create ideal environments for corona-viruses to emerge.  Perhaps the virus came from bats on sale at the Wuhan wet market or from genetic combinations of viruses from dead and weakened livestock there. The mix of dead, wild and slaughtered animals created this threat.

The virus and the human psyche

And a similar threat has been growing inside the human psyche. The destruction of our own habitat by the perceived need for economic growth has set humanity on a suicidal course.  Recognizing the dangers to humankind lurking our subconscious can begin the resolution of this conflict between unchecked domination of nature and the eradication of humanity.


Buried in most human minds is the memory of our social origins on this planet. We were hunter-gathers in groups of approximately 25. For survival we were intimately dependent on each other and were sensitively tuned to the natural world. The virus is tapping our need to reignite these ancient capacities.

Coincidences often show our intimate interconnections with other people. One example is simulpathity, knowing the pain of a loved one at a distance. Books on coincidences are filled with other examples of the many surprising inter-human connections. (see Rawlette for a rich collection of these stories )

Stories about human-plant and human-wild animal coincidences are being increasingly reported. See Zylstra for many examples. 

Earth and us

Animals, plants, trees and us. That’s what we have here on this green earth. We can behave as if we recognize our interdependence on this our one and only planet. Or we can ignore the message of Covid-19. If we do then we will blithely continue on the road to the destruction of our habitat and ultimately of ourselves.

The pandemic is forcing the ever expanding economic engines of the world to slow down. The people of the world are stopping to think about our future.  China and Vietnam are prohibiting wild animal markets. Rather than slaughtering wild animals, let’s learn with them. There’s so much to consider. Humanity is at a critical choice point. Let’s bravely envision a new world.